About Wendy Richardson

About Wendy

Wendy Richardson (nee Norman) grew up in Far North Queensland, as a 4th generation member of a long-standing, pioneering family.

She was educated in Cairns, attaining her Teacher’s Licentiate for Speech and Drama through the Trinity College of London during her high school years, before moving to Brisbane to study for her degree in Speech Therapy at the University of Queensland.

After graduating from UQ in 1975, Wendy, now married with one child, worked as the sole speech pathologist for the Queensland Education Department in the Mackay region.

She then moved to Hobart in 1977 and worked as the Tasmanian Education Department’s Special Schools Speech Therapist for southern Tasmania, as well as servicing a number of regular schools.

Two years later, she was successful in applying for the position of Director of the Lady Gowrie Child Centre (Hobart), one of 5 such centres based in the capital cities of Australia, funded by the federal government to research, teach and demonstrate ‘best practice’ in early childhood health, welfare and education services.

By mid 1983, after the birth of her second child, Wendy returned to speech pathology, both in private practice and with the Tasmanian Education Department. During this time she continued her special interest in children’s speech disorders, but added voice disorders in adults and children as an area of particular focus. She also coordinated the Tasmanian section of Speech Pathology Awareness Week for the Australian Association of Speech and Hearing (AASH) which later changed its name to Speech Pathology Australia (SPA).

As part of her professional development at this time, Wendy also undertook a post-graduate Degree in Special Education at the University of Tasmania.

Unfortunately, family circumstances prevented her from completing the final stages of this study, and prompted a move to Perth, Western Australia, where Wendy lived for ten years, developing a large private practice with 6 employees, Communication Clinics of WA. However, the course work for that 2nd degree was what she was seeking, focusing on literacy and behaviour management.

In 1996, Wendy moved back to her home town of Cairns to assist her elderly parents. She again developed a private practice servicing Innisfail to Mossman, and west to Dimbulah. In addition to her private work, Wendy filled a locum position as Speech Pathologist in Charge at Cairns Base Hospital in 1997.

During her time in Cairns, Wendy became increasingly concerned re issues to do with literacy, leading delegations on behalf of Speech Pathology Australia to speak with the federal Education Minister and his state counterpart, as well as tertiary institutions. She established a Far North Qld Literacy Advocacy Group comprising senior educational staff and literacy specialists, speech and language pathologists, representatives of training organisations, and TAFE colleges.

Wendy’s interest in literacy and broader community issues, including indigenous matters, eventually led to her standing twice for state parliament, achieving the highest primary vote count in the electorate of Barron River in 2009. She also stood for council in the Tablelands region in 2008, and later led the community in Cairns in a battle to preserve a historic building, the old Cairns Yacht Club.

For several years, while conducting her private practice, Wendy also purchased and ran a small beef cattle and tourism facility on the Atherton Tablelands, south-west of Cairns.

In 2012, Wendy and her family relocated to Brisbane, where she again established a private practice based in Windsor. This practice provides regular mobile outreach services to Far North Qld, the Gold Coast and Kingaroy.

Wendy says, “I’m really grateful for some of my life experiences, which have shown me how important it is to listen to people and not judge. My eldest sister was born with a blood disorder which caused severe ongoing problems for her such as intellectual impairment, epilepsy, and kidney dysfunction before she died aged 31. And all this after my parents were told that she was just a ‘naughty child’. My own children and grandchildren have exhibited the usual array of issues and abilities, so as a parent I have experienced the highs and lows, and the concerns and joys that children bring. Caring for my elderly parents also taught me a great deal about the carer’s role, and issues for our senior citizens.”